Photos from the study
Clear guidance to participants is important in participatory science. Credit: Letaïef et al. [2023], Figure 3
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Community Science

Issues of air quality are important to communities across the world. There is a need for developing new methods for sensing and evaluating air quality. Letaïef et al. [2023] is a story of participatory air quality monitoring which was co-produced by scientists, concerned residents, and policy makers.

The scientists were interested in testing a new approach to monitor particulate matter (PM) by using magnetic measurements. For this, they used plants and passive filters in a canyon street in Montpellier, France. This street canyon was selected because residents were already concerned about the street traffic and potential impact on air quality. After a period of collecting samples, they were tested in the lab to assess accumulation.

However, the study changed course when the project and the activities of local residents convinced the city to change the use of the street, thus changing the basic conditions that the scientists were measuring. The authors analyzed the results that they obtained until the closure, and also reflected on the nature of the collaboration.

Even though the study ended sooner than expected, important lessons were learned that are relevant to many citizen and community science projects. In addition, the new methodology of monitoring air quality was developed, and the authors propose a magnetic air quality sensing index.

Citation: Letaïef, S., Scotto-d’Apollonia, L., Dosias-Perla, D., Pinero, C., Perier, R., Nicol, P., & Camps, P. (2023). Benefits and limitations of environmental magnetism for completing citizen science on air quality: A case study in a street canyon. Community Science, 2, e2022CSJ000010.

—Muki Haklay, Editor, Community Science

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